I recently had the opportunity to interview Brandi Megan Granett, a fellow New Jerseyan and author of recently published novel Triple Love Score (Wyatt Mackenzie, September 1, 2016). And if you keep reading until the end, you’ll enjoy an excerpt from the novel that Anita Hughes, author of Santorini Sunsets, is calling “a tremendously engaging read.”
Triple Love Score is available to buy now, so if you find yourself wanting more, click on one of the purchase links at the end of the page!
What books have influenced your life and writing the most?
One of the first short story collections I read in college was Amy Bloom’s Come to Me. Reading a contemporary woman writing about people’s messy lives inspired me to keep studying writing. Her story, Love is Not a Pie, also told me something about love—and how it isn’t always neatly tied up in a bow or even easy to understand.
Which character/s from a book would you invite to dinner? Why?
I’d love to have the narrator of Feast of Love by Charles Baxter to dinner, mainly because I would want Charles Baxter to come to dinner and the character is modeled after him. In the novel, the narrator collects love stories from a cast of characters. I’d love to share a bottle of Prosecco, a big bowl of pasta and a bunch of love stories.
Which book do you wish you could’ve written?
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt—I can’t imagine inhabiting such a sweeping book as a writer. Tom Lux, who I studied with at Sarah Lawrence College, once said that every so often you will find a line that you will have wished to sell your soul to the devil to have written it yourself. I would love to have Tartt’s command of character and dedication to such a long project. I’m not sure I would sell my soul to make her book mine, but I would like to tackle something more ambitious next.
What do you consider your best accomplishment?
I am torn on this question; I could say my daughter. But in actuality, I’m not going to take credit for her; she is her own creation in the end (though I am super proud!). In addition to writing, I work very hard at being a competitive archer. In 2010, I represented the USA in the World Field Archery Championships, and I won an international medal for indoor archery. Getting to that level of archery through sheer grit and a lot of effort represents the personal accomplishment I am most proud of.
TRIPLE LOVE SCORE is your second novel. Tell us a bit about your writing process and how (if at all) it has changed over time.
My first novel, My Intended, was written as my MFA thesis for Sarah Lawrence. After leaving schools, I needed to learn how to write without the deadlines and peer pressure of a workshop class. From archery and a completed draft from NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org/), I learned the importance of a daily practice. When I finally decided to work on a novel again, I set a daily goal of 500 words. I found this much more manageable than the over two thousand words required by NaNoWriMo!
I found the inclusion of Scrabble poetry, together with images of the completed boards, to be quite unique. It offered another layer to the main character, Miranda. Where did you get the inspiration from to include the poetry in that form throughout TRIPLE LOVE SCORE?
At the time I was writing Triple Love Score, I was playing a lot of Words with Friends and online Scrabble. The idea to have her write on a Scrabble board just came from there.
Which character did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing the character of Lynn, Scott’s daughter. I loved seeing the world through her excited and exuberant eyes!
If TRIPLE LOVE SCORE was adapted into a movie, who would be your ideal cast?
I would love for Mamie Gummer to play Miranda, perhaps with her own mother, Meryl Streep, playing Louise. Michael Fassbender or Jamie Dornan would be Ian. Chris Hemsworth could be Scott.
Are you currently working on any new story ideas?
In my next novel, Straight Shooter, my main character inherits a summer camp—one of my dream jobs that I get to live out through her story. Plus, I get to write about archery!
I’ve seen your upcoming event, River Reads, on Facebook. Can you share some information on how you came up with the idea and what the event is all about?
To celebrate the publication of Triple Love Score, I partnered with Prallsville Mill in Stockton and the Book Garden in Frenchtown to form River Reads (https://www.facebook.com/RiverReads/), a celebration of authors and reading on the Delaware River on October 23, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, and instead of having a book launch focused solely on my own work, I found a way to bring authors and readers together in my hometown. So far over 45 authors from the Delaware Valley Region have signed up to present and participate. We also have the Bonjour Creperie food truck vending crepes, and Unionville Vineyards will be doing wine tastings. I hope it will be a beautiful day!
Now for a few just for fun questions so that we can get to know Brandi a bit more:
If I had a superpower, it would be…To double things. I read this in a magazine once, and it is so useful for solving so many of the world’s problems.
If I were an animal, I would be…Golden retriever! I am always eager to go outside and play. Or have something to eat!
If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be…An amazing place where I can have a backyard big enough to practice archery but be able to walk to restaurants and a grocery store. So far, I have yet to find such a place, but I am looking. Barring that, Key West.
People often describe me as…A cheerleader
If I didn’t write, I would…Take up competitive eating.
Triple Love Score
by Brandi Megan Granett
Even at twelve years old, Miranda knew better than to dissuade her mother from orchestrating her own funeral.
“So,” Louise began, “you will wear the brown dress. Not the black. You are too young for black. Anita will iron it for you and make sure you have fresh hose. Daddy, luckily, already wears the right suit. The town car will come for you. Yes, you will sit in the back. Don’t even ask to ride up front. The car will take you to the church. The big one, downtown, the one my mother loved. I didn’t like it there except for the music. I loved the organ and the choir. So that’s what it will be. All music. No sense in your father standing up there to speak. I couldn’t do that to him.” Her mother’s voice quavered. She could pretend to be okay with dying for only so long.
Miranda, perched on the bow window seat of her parents’ bedroom, remained silent. There was no sense in talking. Her mother valued knowledge, concrete plans, and making sure everyone knew exactly what to expect.
Louise leaned back against the floral print chaise lounge and gasped for breath before continuing. She picked up the gold chain she wore around her neck. Her engagement ring, a single emerald cut diamond, hung from the chain, and caught the light. Cancer robbed her mother of the simplest of things like wearing this ring; all of her joints swelled from the treatment while everything else shrunk. The ring at once could not fit and could not hold. Louise let the ring dangle in front of her for a moment before tucking it back into her blouse. Miranda stroked the Hermes scarf on her mother’s head.
“Randa,” she said, “it makes me feel better to know you are prepared. Tell me which dress you will wear.”
Miranda knew what the doctors said and didn’t argue. Her mother smelled like death, sickly sweet like overripe fruit. Her thick hair, a chestnut brown and wavy, like Miranda’s own, abandoned her shortly after the first treatments. Her arms could barely manage to lift a full glass of water. And Miranda’s mother was always right. If Louise said knowing about the funeral would make it better, it would.
The funeral turned out as planned. The brown dress, which Anita ironed. The car where she sat next to her father. The big church downtown. But her mother hadn’t mentioned the flowers. The smell of them: waxy, sweet, green. Yet the scent of their wilting decay hung in the air, too. Miranda clung to her father’s side as he moved up the crowded aisles. Her parents, both lawyers and popular ones at that, served on committees, argued cases, and taught at the law school. Throngs of people came to say goodbye. Each bent low and tried to look Miranda in the eye, but she couldn’t match their gaze. Their eyes ringed red from tears didn’t mirror her own grief. They hadn’t known what was coming; they hadn’t sat in that sunny room and discussed death and funerals with her mother. Miranda spent her own tears long before the funeral.
Finally, they made their way through the crowd to the front where Linden, Bunny, and Scott sat. Bunny, her mother’s best friend, knew the drill. Bunny hired the organist and booked the church. Linden arranged the car service. Even though they weren’t related, they were family. Miranda slid over next to Scott as she always did. He was her brother and best friend rolled into one. He would play video games with her and sometimes let her win or picked her for his manhunt team. They watched movies together and re-enacted scenes for their parents’ applause. They took turns reading to each other on long car rides to the shore where they would swim and play Frisbee while their parents perfected the margarita with many failed but consumed batches. But today wasn’t like that. Miranda suspected no day would ever be like that again.
Of course, they sat in the front pew. Miranda knew that. Her mother stressed that point. “I know you don’t like being front and center, my girl,” she said, petting Miranda’s hair, then sun-streaked from the summer spent by the pool watching her mother try and fail each day to swim like she used to. “People expect you up there. Funerals are for everyone, not just the family. Try to remember that.”
But in the front row, they were closer to the flowers. And their smell. It began to stick to the back of her throat and reach down deep into her lungs. Her chest constricted. The Reverend signaled for everyone to stand. The weight of this day and all the days of her mother’s illness pressed down upon her. Miranda went to move, but her legs gave out from under her just as the thunderous noise from the organ began. She saw her father’s gaze transfixed on the cross over the altar and was grateful he didn’t see her falter. She tried again to stand. This time a hand around her waist lifted her. Scott looked down at her, his own eyes brimmed with tears. He lifted her up and then took her hand, pulling her arm close to his. He kept his arm tensed and flexed. She leaned into him, gripping his fingers so tightly that the knuckles on both their hands turned white. Embarrassed, she moved to let go.
“No,” he whispered, squeezing her fingers tightly back. He didn’t let go. He kept her upright for the entire service of music and through all the goodbyes in the foyer of the church. He held her hand until the driver opened the door to the town car and ushered her inside.
“Thank you,” was all she said to him.
He only nodded in reply.
About Brandi Megan Granett
Brandi Megan Granett is an author, online English professor, and private writing mentor. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University, Wales, an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College, a Masters in Adult Education with an emphasis on Distance Education from Penn State University, and her BA from the University of Florida.
Granett is the author of My Intended (William Morrow, 2000). Her short fiction has appeared in Pebble Lake Review, Folio, Pleiades and other literary magazines, and is collected in the volume Cars and Other Things That Get Around.
In addition, she writes an author interview series for the Huffington Post, and is a member of the Tall Poppy Writers, a community of writing professionals committed to growing relationships, promoting the work of its members, and connecting authors with each other and with readers.
When Granett is not writing or teaching or mothering, she is honing her archery skills. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter and two dogs.
About Triple Love Score
What happens when you stop playing games?
Miranda Shane lives a quiet life among books and letters as a professor in a small upstate town. When the playing-by-the-rules poet throws out convention and begins to use a Scrabble board instead of paper to write, she sets off a chain of events that rattles her carefully planned world.
Her awakening propels her to take risks and seize chances she previously let slip by, including a game-changing offer from the man she let slip away. But when the revelation of an affair with a graduate student threatens the new life Miranda created, she is forced to decide between love or poetry.